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Valenti Touch Working Its Magic at Rosary

September 26, 2000|DAN ARRITT

Rosary Coach Dreux Valenti answered the phone in his Placentia home and instinctively hollered for his wife.

"You probably want Pam, right?" Valenti asked a reporter.

In past years, probably. But Rosary is no longer a nameless cross-country team in Orange County, much less the Valenti household.

Pam Valenti has coached the girls' cross-country team at Brea Olinda for 11 years, guiding the Wildcats to eight consecutive unbeaten seasons in the Orange League. The Wildcats also qualified for state in 1997 and 1998 and just missed advancing last season, finishing third in the Southern Section Division II finals.

Rosary, where Dreux Valenti has coached for five seasons, didn't make much of an impact in cross-country until last season, when the Royals finished fifth in the Southern Section Division III finals. They are currently ranked fourth in Division III, giving Valenti hope they may earn their first trip to Fresno.

"This team really wants to qualify for state," Valenti said. "Last year, Christi [Arnerich] went as an individual, but it's not the same thing."

Arnerich is back this season and she's the main reason Valenti considers this team his best yet. Arnerich, a senior, finished 11th overall in the Southern Section finals last season and was seventh in 19:25 at the Division III junior/senior race at the Laguna Hills Invitational three weeks ago.

Valenti also expects junior Jilane Rodgers and senior Catie Garrett to provide valuable points this season. Rodgers finished 10th at the Laguna Hills Invitational (19:52) and Garrett was 14th (20:50).

"I've got a 1-2-3 punch that really helps me out," Valenti said.

Pam Valenti is organizing the Brea Olinda Invitational Saturday at Carbon Canyon Regional Park. The Wildcats, ranked fifth in Division II, and Rosary will highlight the meet.

Most of the remaining top teams in the county will head to Northern California for the prestigious Stanford Invitational.

Corona del Mar and Foothill won girls' titles at Stanford last season.


Dreux and Pam Valenti, whom also coach track and field during the spring, met a little more than four years ago, during his first track season at Rosary.

Dreux, who graduated from Servite in 1987 and ran for USC, gave Pam a check that was meant to be Rosary's entry fee for the Brea Olinda Invitational. Later that week, he discovered he accidentally gave Pam his reimbursement check.

"So I called her up and left a message at her home," Dreux said. "She called me back and it turned out she lived right down the street."

Dreux jogged to Pam's house later that evening and they swapped checks, as well as a few stories.

They began jogging together, but Dreux discovered he was no longer in the best of shape.

"About two miles into our first 10-mile run, I was dying," he said. "But I couldn't show any pain."

Dreux and Pam married in July, 1999, and their son, Tommy, was born in April. The Valentis take turns bringing Tommy to training sessions and meets, pushing him in his racing stroller as the runners make their rounds on the track.


The Great American Cross-Country Festival in Charlotte, N.C., was nearly rained out last weekend, but Mother Nature provided enough of a reprieve to get the meet in.

Heavy rains on Friday afternoon put the starting line three feet underwater and postponed the race for seven hours.

When it finally got under way, Newport Harbor senior Amber Steen ran to an eighth-place finish in 18:26 on the three-mile course. Alicia Craig of Wyoming, the 1999 Footlocker Western Regional champion, was first in 17:29.

The Esperanza girls finished 11th in the 21-team competition, led by sophomore Alison Costello, who was 47th in 19:40.


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